A few years ago, I was an avid Salsa and Rumba dancer. I’d go out a few times a week, every week and dance for hours. If you’ve enjoyed partner dancing to live music then you know that it’s one of the best feelings on earth. That joy of feeling into the steps, being in the moment with your partner, and wrapped in powerfully good music.
The satisfaction I had when my partner and I were in sync, but also the frustration we both felt when we bumped into eachother, or were off-time. But beyond both extremes, being able to re-engage in the dance, and lighten-up inside! What a relief. It could be a metaphor for our quality of attention when working on a given project. When I have an idea and decide start it, but fail to go fully into the implemention or the action of it, or when I start and make great headway, but then get interrupted…it’s unsatisfying. It’s like intending to do a particular dance step, starting it and getting interrupted, or realizing that I’m off the beat. It’s almost painful. I’d argue that it’s even more painful in a work project than in a dance, or some other physical activity, because it’s more difficult to access the joy.
The joy is in the body, not the head. When we work, its all to easy to get into the head. The point is that whether we mess up and fall off the beat or nail the step, there is always the opportunity to re-start, and isn’t that really the best part?
Tomorrow is my late mothers birthday. In honor of her memory, I’m sharing the post below. I wrote it 2 years ago but feel even closer to the words and their sentiment than before. In fact, I love her more than ever before…
Remembering Mom, Sally Lou Cameron
(9/8/39 – 9/21/07)
“A piece of work” is a euphemism that encompasses a broad range of meaning, including the implication of difficult-ness. But with difficultness can spring, extreme beauty.
Mom was a piece of work. She was difficult and beautiful. If Picasso had painted her (assuming he’d have done it when he was transitioning from Realism to early Cubism), he’d have produced an image – part witch and part child. On the other hand, if Renoir had been her portraitist, the result would have been the soft image of an exquisite female, seated in a park, encircled by small animals and birds, with children on her lap.
Mom was all of this; complete; yet troubled.
A large part of my life experience was shaped by her Witch, her Child, her Goddess.
Today, I remember her with total love: the kind of love that accepts all of a person – their darkness and their light – and rejoices in gratitude for their willingness to let you see them.
She let me see her.
Since her death, I’ve realized that this means holding the love of one who may have done me wrong at times, but on so many more occasions, did me right. And, anyway, who endeavored and who did love me as much and as wholly as she could.
Something that I’ve struggled with for some time, both at work and outside of work is that I have an ongoing stream of ideas which I’m compelled to start all at the same time. This is impossible of course. I know this. You know this. Even the expert multi-tasker has experienced the futility and gnawing discomfort of having to accept the fact that their intention is bound by the capacity afforded a two armed, two legged, one headed being. There is only so much a single-bodied being can do.
And before anyone comes back with the retort: But what about technology? It enables me to exponentially increase the amount of work I do in a given amount of time. It is possible to multi-task! Let me kill that statement in its tracks. I’m not talking about quantity here. When I have this urge to act on all these ideas at the same time, it’s not for the shear numbers of it, its for the shear feeling of it. I’m talking about quality. I want to experience the fullfillment of completing an action that leads to a desired or at least a completed outcome.
Intellectually, I know that in order to do anything worthwhile, I have to focus on one thing at a time, break it down into steps, and then work on those steps consistently over time. Each of these steps, if completed, makes me feel pretty good. But, oddly, each time I sit down to start a step, it’s as if I’ve forgotten the satisfaction I got the time before. I seem to forget the joy and pleasure of focusing on just one thing. My body knows it, but my head is a slut to quantity. It gets seduced by the illusion of believing it can do more than one thing at a time, and do it well.
That’s when I turn to the body, in its wisdom and evergreen energy . There’s a lot of ways the body can re-teach the head about the power of simple action. One of my favorites is to cartwheel. A few of these babies in the middle of the day sets me straight and back on center – ready to take on the world, one business call at a time.
Try it and find out for yourself.